Title: A New Look at Lookout Mountain
Author: Janis Hashe
Publisher: Chattanooga Pulse
The perfect gift for the local history buff on your list might have just arrived: William F. Hull’s new book Lookout Mountain.
Native Chattanoogan Hull is the author of two other popular books on his hometown, Historic Photos of Chattanooga and Then and Now: Chattanooga. This newest publication is part of the “Images of America” series, celebrating the history of neighborhoods, towns and cities across the country.
“What makes a landmark?” asks Hull in his introduction. “Why would Martin Luther King in his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech ask that ‘freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee?’”
While there might be several answers to both questions, Hull’s book is a really marvelous pictorial, beginning with the Whiteside family in pre-Civil War (“A Southern Landmark in Old America”), continuing through the war with some remarkable photos, drawings and paintings of encampments and battles (including one of General Grant, eternal cigar in mouth, on top of the mountain following Hooker’s victory in the Battle Above the Clouds.
The following chapters celebrate the area’s beauty (including some early shots of Lula Falls), views of the mountain from the valley, the ingenious ways people figured out how to get up the mountain, including the Incline (“Scaling the Heights”), and a range of photos from all eras documenting “Life on the Mountain.”
In one striking shot from this chapter, an elderly black man sits in front of a shanty he has obviously constructed himself. Notes Hull, “For all its wealth, parts of Lookout Mountain were not prosperous. There was a small African American community on the mountain that was self-sufficient, but for many years, there were a number of people surviving on the side and back of the mountain who were living in tough circumstances.”
The final chapter, “Tourist Town”, shows off early photos of Umbrella Rock, the Dixie Highway, Ruby Falls and Rock City, including a couple of my creepy favorites, the gnomes.
In any case, whether you have a relative here who has a history hobby, or know someone elsewhere in the country who’d enjoy a little background on your new hometown, consider seeking out Lookout Mountain, which goes on sale December 7.